A cabin on the river near Bigfork

syme design

Fly fishing cabin on the Swan River in Bigfork

David Reese, Montana Living

Syme Design has created a home near Bigfork where the natural surroundings are part of the décor.

Just outside the back door of this log cabin the Swan River tumbles its way over boulders amid a brilliant fall day. Leaves tumble and swirl from the cottonwoods toward the deep pools of water, then are carried away downstream toward Flathead Lake.
This cabin is the creation of Syme and Syme Design, a Bigfork design/build firm that made a truly unique Montana fishing cabin. It is the first Orvis-endorsed cabin in the nation, and will help serve as a model for future Orvis homes throughout America. Orvis is a 150-year-old outdoor company that creates products for the outdoor lifestyle.
An Orvis-endorsed home means that all of the stringent, detail-oriented work that goes into anything with the Orvis name on it will go into the home, from the architects to the way the wood is milled.
Doug Syme, who with his wife, MaryLee, own Syme and Syme, is an Orvis-authorized builder, one of only about 20 in the nation. He worked with Rocky Mountain Log Homes of Hamilton to create this mountain showpiece.

Syme Design rebuilds a barn in Bigfork, Montana from Montana Living on Vimeo.


Just stone’s throw from the Swan River, the home occupies a stately piece of Montana. Hand-hewn logs combined with modern technology make the home not only energy efficient, but leading-edge when it comes to having conveniences like a wireless network throughout the home. While the Orvis program provides a complete set of plans, they can be modified to your particular desires, as long as an Orvis-authorized contractor performs the work. This way, the owner of a home with an Orvis endorsement is assured of quality, start to finish. It’s not just the products, but the craftsmanship that goes into an Orvis home. From using hand-peeled logs to requiring native stone (rather than fake stone) are examples of the stringent quality guidelines that Orvis requires. In Syme’s project, they used skip-sawn hickory for the flooring, cherry and maple for the cabinets, and slate floors in the kitchen and baths. Even the window and door casings were built and installed by furniture makers — the most detailed of the wood crafters. The kitchen cabinets feature seeded glass, and even the retro pushbutton lighting controls have mother-of-pearl inlays. “That hand-crafting is a very important part of the home,” Doug Syme said. “At this level, we’re dealing with the best of the best.”
The 2,400-square-foot home was built as a spec house for Syme and Rocky Mountain Log Homes. It is listed by Trails West Eagle Bend Realty in Bigfork.
The knowledge that was gained in building this home will be used in future Orvis homes throughout America, Syme said. “Even if you build one of these homes in Blue Ridge Mountains you’ll have the same level of confidence,” he said. 
While it’s a cozy Montana log cabin, behind the walls are things you don’t see, like structured wiring for home electronics, sound, or a wireless network. But, as Syme says, “All you see is a cabin in the woods.”

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